FinTech Wales meets: Backbase

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As part of our “FinTech Wales meets…” series, we want to give a shout-out to our members so you can learn more about who they are, what they do and how they benefit from being a FinTech company in Wales.

Today, we introduce Backbase, the fast-growing software provider that empowers financial institutions to accelerate their digital transformation to compete in a digital first world.

How it all began
Backbase was founded in 2003 in Amsterdam and its Cardiff research and development hub opened in 2016. The company has launched many products over the years including a customer experience platform, digital banking services, identity and access management through to a sophisticated banking employee-focused application.

They are the creators of the Backbase Omni-Channel Banking Platform, a state-of-the-art digital banking software solution that unifies data and functionality from traditional core systems and new fintech players into a seamless digital customer experience. James Christian is Development Director for R&D in the UK, supporting the leadership team and making sure the product development teams are set up for success.

He says: “The Backbase Omni-Channel Banking Platform gives financial services companies the speed and flexibility to create and manage seamless customer experiences across any device and deliver measurable business results. We believe that superior digital experiences are essential to stay relevant, and our software enables financial service businesses to rapidly grow their digital business.

“Our Cardiff-based team has organically grown into a well-oiled machine of 70-plus software engineers, Product Owners, Scrum Masters, QAs, and UX specialists. Today, we’re the second largest Backbase product development hub, globally. There are now over 1000 Backbasers around the world.”

Growing a reputation for outstanding digital customer experiences

Any successful business needs to know how to identify a gap in the market and Backbase’s heritage comes from its desire to help clients create a first-class digital experience.

It recognised that some incumbent banks were struggling to bring a superior customer experience to market – often dealing with very siloed legacy applications and engagement channels. To compete with tech-savvy neo-banks, it developed their digital-first banking platform to aggregate and orchestrate valuable, connected experiences.

And this move helped propel the business as an industry leader, as James explained: “Industry analysts Celent, Gartner, Forrester and Ovum recognise Backbase as an industry leader in terms of omni-channel banking platform capabilities and award the company high marks for its deep focus on customer experience management and unparalleled speed of implementation. Forrester named us a leader in the Forrester Wave for Omni-Channel Banking and Ovum nominates Backbase as the market leading provider of next-generation digital channel banking platforms.”

More than 120 financial services companies around the world have standardised on the Backbase omni-channel banking platform to streamline their digital sales and self-service operations across all digital touchpoints. Its customer base includes ABN AMRO, Bank ABC, Barclays, BPI, CheBanca!, Citizens Lightstream, Credit Suisse, Fidelity, HDFC, IDFC, KeyBank, Ila Bank, Me Bank, Navy Federal, PostFinance, RBC, RBS, Standard Bank, Societe Generale, Truist, U Bank and Westpac.

Working through a global pandemic
2020 was a challenging year for many businesses but it proved a strong year commercially for Backbase. Adapting to the global situation, banks accelerated delivery of their digital transformation initiatives, so the company proved to be a great fit.

2020 marked the launch of its managed-cloud offering, Backbase-as-a-Service, which proved very popular with customers. James adds: “Not only are we helping drive operational efficiencies – we’re delivering the primary channel by which people interact with their bank.”

The Cardiff team also launched its Employee Application in 2020 – focused on delivering an exceptional experience for customer support representatives (CSR). With more CSRs working from home, it will help streamline their way of working and allow them the time to focus on the human connection with their customers. Operationally, the company had to adapt quickly. James says: “We’re lucky to be working in a tech industry with offices around the globe – remote engagements were not new. The team has done a fantastic job responding to the new challenges – culminating in one of our strongest years to date.”

The benefits of being a Welsh FinTech
Wales is home to well-established financial service and customer service organisations and Backbase has improved its product by collaborating on user research with peers such as Hodge Bank.

The Cardiff team has built a strong engineering reputation within the Backbase organisation and share a lot of cultural touchpoints with their Dutch colleagues. James adds: “We’re very lucky to have some great higher education institutions on our doorstep. As with all regions in Western Europe, access to experienced talent is challenging. I believe this is a shared challenge; with industry, government and academia working together to make our growth sustainable.

“We’ve really enjoyed hosting meetups and collaborating on user research. We invite and encourage more opportunities for Welsh FinTechs, financial institutions and customer service organisations to collaborate and share knowledge. Ultimately, I believe this will create a stronger ecosystem and more compelling products.”

Building on success and looking to the future

The future looks bright for Backbase with aggressive growth plans for 2021 and beyond. It continues to broaden and deepen its product offering with smart solutions to help people and organisations manage their financial health.

James says Backbase-as-a-Service allows financial institutions to offload operational concerns to Backbase’s technical experts. Banks can then focus on what they do best; meaningful customer engagement and supporting their clients’ financial health.

It is currently a really exciting time for FinTechs and James is particularly excited about Open Finance and innovative business opportunities this could provide for FinTechs whilst providing end-users with more oversight of their data and smoother access to services.